NICE publishes guidance on discharge of patients from hospitals

NICE has unveiled new recommendations, which include appointing a sole co-ordinator for every patient with social care needs to ensure they leave hospital swiftly.

Guidance to avoid a ‘revolving door of care’ would help prevent patients with social care needs being stuck in hospital unnecessarily.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said its new guidance will improve the speed and co-ordination of support for people who experience delayed discharge from hospital.

Under its recommendations, nurses could be appointed as a co-ordinator to oversee a patient’s case and ensure the proper care is waiting for them once they leave hospital.

NICE also advises against allowing pressure on bed numbers to result in unplanned discharges.

According to the National Audit Office, in 2012/13 more than one million people required emergency re-admittance to hospital within 30 days of uncoordinated discharge, costing the NHS £2.4 billion.

In August this year more than 5,000 people experienced delayed discharge, up from 3,961 in 2012.

NICE’s director of health and social care Gillian Leng said: ‘A smooth and timely transition from hospital back to their home environment – whether that’s their own home or a care home – has a positive effect on a person’s wellbeing and can speed up their recovery.

‘It should also help ease the pressure on hospitals and avoid people becoming caught in the "revolving door of care" – when they are re-admitted because they’re not getting the right support at home.’

Other recommendations include hospitals bringing together a team of multidisciplinary professionals as soon as a person with social care needs is admitted. The team should also record information about medicines and care needs into an electronic data system.

In addition, within 24 to 72 hours of discharge, a community-based nurse should also telephone or visit people at risk of hospital re-admission to assess how they are coping.

To read the NICE guidance, 'Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings for adults with social care needs', click here

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